Employers are increasingly using private GP services to support their workers, with one healthcare trust provider reporting a 200 per cent increase in usage since 2021.
Healix says this is the increase in the number of GP appointments it has arranged since the October 2021 — when the Covid pandemic was still a significant problem. Over the past 12 months, the number of appointments has risen by 70 per cent, reflecting ongoing problems in NHS services as waiting lists reach record levels.
Overall Healix says it has seen an 18 per cent increase in members over the past year.
Healix CEO Ian Talbot says: “Companies are now looking more than ever to provide support not just to management level but to all levels of staff.
“We’re seeing demand soaring for quick intervention and the convenience of seeing a doctor remotely. The number of people seeking a referral for hospital treatment via their employers has also risen.”
The news comes as an increasing number of people are using private healthcare, with a recent poll by the IHPN finding that those aged 18-24 were most likely to have used it, with 45 per cent saying they have gone private for a GP appointment.
The latest NHS Digital data on GP appointments carried out in June showed that 2m appointments were delivered between fifteen and 21 days after they were booked. Meanwhile a recent report by the BMA found that the overall number of NHS GPs has seen little growth since 2015, with the number of GP partners declining significantly over that time, despite promises by the Government in 2020 to recruit 6000 GPs by 2024.
Talbot adds that as winter approaches he expects more employers to step up to support workers by providing access to primary healthcare services. “Doing so helps alleviate stretched health services and ensure that employees can bring their best selves to work at a time when accessing primary care has become increasingly challenging, with record numbers out of work due to ill health.”